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JohnJ
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For Canon, Is 100-400L Still The Standard?

Fri Jul 23, 2010 10:03 pm

Seems every time I meet up with A.net photographers the ubiquitous 100-400L lens is on the end of everyone else's cameras, at least those who shoot Canon. I've been shooting for the past 6 years with a Canon 75-300mm IS USM lens that's served me well, but more than anything I'd like some extra focal length. The 75-300 really goes downhill past about 200mm. My camera is a 40D.

So, the question is whether the Canon 100-400L lens remains the best choice for a lens with that focal length. I'm not interested in a prime lens and I'm not interested in getting a higher-quality version of the 75-300 lens I currently have. However, I've been talked out of things on this forum before (that's why I'm shooting with a 40D now instead of a 500D).

Finally, just to be sure I'm looking at the right thing, this is what I've been reviewing at B&H:

Canon Zoom Telephoto EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS (Image Stabilizer) USM Autofocus Lens

Their price for the US version is $1610, so if anyone knows of better deals I'd appreciate knowing about them.

Thanks!

John
 
waketurbulence
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RE: For Canon, Is 100-400L Still The Standard?

Fri Jul 23, 2010 11:03 pm

The 100-400 is probably one of the most widely used aviation lenses produced by Canon. I love mine and use it all the time, even when I carry my 500mm f/4 L IS prime. I have heard about a 100-400mm Mark II which has been rumored for some time, but I haven't seen specifics on when/if it might come out. The 100-400 can be found cheaper than $1610 if you want to buy it used. Fred Miranda has lots of good used equipment, you may want to look there. All in all, once you get one, you will wonder why you were shooting with a 75-300 for so long.
-Matt
 
RonS
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RE: For Canon, Is 100-400L Still The Standard?

Sat Jul 24, 2010 12:38 am

I never shot with it. But I am always quite amazed by the results with it on here, as I am sure you are too. I always say to myself, what a slow lens or I hate push / pull, etc. But then I see the results posted here, and the quality is very high. I would buy one myself eventualyl!
 
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vishaljo
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RE: For Canon, Is 100-400L Still The Standard?

Sat Jul 24, 2010 1:25 am

Q: For Canon, Is 100-400L Still The Standard?
Ans: It all depends on the use, Bird Photographers would opt for primes, novice tele-photo seekers may jump on the Sigma 150-500's & what not.........

If you ARE willing to look at primes then the 300 f4L IS & 400 f5.6L would beat the IQ of the 100-400.

The 100-400 though is still arguably The most popular Super-Telephoto out there.

It does have a worth competitor in terms of - Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 EX

For $1600/- you will get a decent used version.

If you can live with the extra weight & no IS, then this is as good a tele-photo zoom lens as you can get (discounting the 70-200 series)
 
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Moose135
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RE: For Canon, Is 100-400L Still The Standard?

Sat Jul 24, 2010 1:34 am

Been using one for 5 years, and I wouldn't use anything else for aviation photography.
 
JakTrax
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RE: For Canon, Is 100-400L Still The Standard?

Sat Jul 24, 2010 2:24 am

I've not owned or used a 100-400 but I know there are some stories out there. From what I hear it's quite likely you'll go through a couple before finally settling on a sharp copy. I have also heard tales of the IS knackering but I put this down to mistreatment of the tool rather than any recurring issue.

I was very close to buying one in February but I opted for a friend's used Sigma 100-300 f/4 EX IF, on the grounds of price. The reviews for this particular Sigma were excellent, with most saying that it was optically equal to the 100-400; although obviously minus 100mm and IS. So far I've not compared it directly to the Canon but it appears to be sharper than the 50-500 'Bigma'.

Quoting vishaljo (Reply 3):
It does have a worth competitor in terms of - Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 EX

I would actually say the 100-300 f/4 EX is a closer competitor due to the aperture value. The 2.8 of the model you describe really bumps up the price!

Despite the stories I've heard about the 100-400 it's a popular lens and I wouldn't think twice about parting with my cash for it! I only ever really use 300mm maximum so the Sigma was good for me but I understand that its focal range isn't ideal for many. I have also heard many good things about the Sigma 120-400 but at just under GB£600 and without the 'EX' designator I'm sceptical about its performance. Still, I know of many people using them who are producing lovely images so maybe the old adage about getting what you pay for isn't always true (?).

Karl
 
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dvincent
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RE: For Canon, Is 100-400L Still The Standard?

Sat Jul 24, 2010 2:43 am

Quoting JakTrax (Reply 5):
I would actually say the 100-300 f/4 EX is a closer competitor due to the aperture value. The 2.8 of the model you describe really bumps up the price!

It's also not handholdable. The 120-300 f/2.8 is probably out of most aviation minds because it's more of a wildlife or sports lens.

John, I'd say the best bet for you right now is either the Sigma 50-500 OS or the 100-400 L. Likely any 100-400L replacement will cost more in price given Canon's latest price hikes in new lenses, so that's something else to consider. A lens in hand today means photographs and is worth more than a theoretically better lens that isn't available to purchase yet.

I'd still keep the 70-300 around because it's a compact lens that doesn't draw attention like the higher end glass does. Having a backup is also handy.
 
JakTrax
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RE: For Canon, Is 100-400L Still The Standard?

Sat Jul 24, 2010 3:02 am

The (new) 50-500 OS is a non-EX lens and I really don't know what to make of Sigma's latest marketing strategy. I've heard that the new models (including the 120-400) are essentially EX lenses, just without the branding, however the revised prices (bearing in mind you now get OS) make me think twice. Is it Sigma getting very aggressive or have they indeed taken some quality out somewhere?

I keep hearing good things about this new line of lenses but I've always been a believer in personal hands-on experience. Some of the reviews are from experienced aviation photog's so presumably there's some truth in them (?). Can you really get a 100-400L-quality lens for less than half the price? Or does the 100-400 rest on its reputation and continue to be number one without having to actually prove itself against these new lenses?

I don't know. But I reckon the 100-400 - deservedly or not - will continue to be the lens of choice for the serious amateur and pro. I wouldn't think twice about adding it to my collection!

On another note John, I'm struggling to figure out exactly which ???-300 lens you currently own - is it the really cheap 75-300 or the much better 70-300 IS? If it's the latter it may be worth holding onto as a spare, providing you don't need the cash generated by its sale.

Karl
 
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dvincent
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RE: For Canon, Is 100-400L Still The Standard?

Sat Jul 24, 2010 4:54 am

Quoting JakTrax (Reply 7):
I keep hearing good things about this new line of lenses but I've always been a believer in personal hands-on experience. Some of the reviews are from experienced aviation photog's so presumably there's some truth in them (?). Can you really get a 100-400L-quality lens for less than half the price? Or does the 100-400 rest on its reputation and continue to be number one without having to actually prove itself against these new lenses?

The 50-500 OS actually costs about the same as a 100-400 L here in the states (about $1599). This is a big price increase over the non-stabilized 50-500, which one could get for about $999 or $1099, last I checked. In my estimation this has caused a lot of people to think twice when comparing this lens to the first party alternatives. Especially since the 50-500 OS isn't as much of a known quantity as the first party lenses yet. It'll take a year or so to suss out the 50-500 OS's true quality. When you buy a 100-400 L, you pretty much know what you're getting.

I have no idea about the 120-400, but usually the Sigma telezooms that cost less than the Bigma were always inferior in some way.

There is also the left field options of the Tamron 200-500 or even the Tokina 80-400. They are both sharp and well performing lenses. However, Both of those lack USM focus and a form of IS.
 
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dlednicer
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RE: For Canon, Is 100-400L Still The Standard?

Sat Jul 24, 2010 5:20 am

I shot with a Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III USM for about a year before coming to the conclusion that it just wasn't sharp enough for aviation photography. I then bought a EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM used on Amazon for $1400 and its been worth every penny of it.

According to the EXIF data, these were taken at 400mm, 1/1000, f/5.6 and ISO100 using the 100-400L on a 450D body:

View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © David Lednicer
View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © David Lednicer

 
commpilot
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RE: For Canon, Is 100-400L Still The Standard?

Sat Jul 24, 2010 5:23 am

Amazon always has the 100-400L for under $1600..usually just under $1400.
 
Silver1SWA
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RE: For Canon, Is 100-400L Still The Standard?

Sat Jul 24, 2010 6:08 am

Quoting dlednicer (Reply 9):
According to the EXIF data, these were taken at 400mm, 1/1000, f/5.6 and ISO100 using the 100-400L on a 450D body:

Could you post the originals or at least some 100% crops of these shots for comparison purposes?

I have a love/hate relationship with my 100-400. One day I love it, the next day I hate it. Been a very tricky lens for me. I'm actually considering ditching it and going for the 70-200 2.8 IS, but that's because I don't need the full reach of the 100-400.
 
GPHOTO
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RE: For Canon, Is 100-400L Still The Standard?

Sat Jul 24, 2010 6:55 am

Quoting Silver1SWA (Reply 11):
Been a very tricky lens for me.

But is it the lens or the conditions?

One of the problems with any longer lens is that if you are using it to reduce the problem of not being able to get close enough to your subject, you are going to have to shoot through more air. For us, as aviation photographers, that is a real problem as we tend to be kept at very large distances from our chosen subjects. The more air you shoot through, the more muck, flies, heat-haze, etc affects your shot. This typically increases the likelihood of a soft shot - I can often see a variation in the softness of my shots from a location depending on the time of day, most likely caused by the effect of heat on the ground affecting the air above it. There is a good reason why astronomers put their telescopes on the tops of inaccessible mountains or why they built Hubble.

To check out your lens and to give yourself some idea if you have a lens problem or a condition problem, try taking a shot of a distant subject at 400mm, say a house, aircraft on the ground, whatever. Now take a photograph at 400mm of something closer, but also detailed, such as nearby flowers or brickwork. You should use a decent shutterspeed and IS to avoid camera shake affecting your result. Compare the two on your computer. If it is down to the lens quality, both should be of a similar softness/sharpness. If it is a condition problem, expect the distant shot to be worse than the closer one.

I've also heard it said that when taking distant shots in tricky conditions such as when it is hot, hazy, heat-hazy and so on, that the poor visually quality of the scene makes it harder for the cameras auto-focus to lock on as precisely as it would if conditions were optimal. The resulting softness is then an auto-focus issue and not a lens issue. I can see the logic of this argument, but have no idea if it is true in reality. Does anyone else have any information on this one way or the other?

Best regards,

Jim
 
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Garyck
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RE: For Canon, Is 100-400L Still The Standard?

Sat Jul 24, 2010 7:30 am

I feel a lens may have been over looked.............. The 70-200 L. I have meet many photographers using this lens, with or without the 1.4 Converter.

It was following the advise of a fellow photog that I changed from my 75-300 to the 70-200 F4 L. I will admit that sometimes I could've done with a little more, but for most airfields and Airports I go to is perfect.

Gary
 
aviopic
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RE: For Canon, Is 100-400L Still The Standard?

Sat Jul 24, 2010 8:36 am

Quoting JakTrax (Reply 5):
I would actually say the 100-300 f/4 EX is a closer competitor due to the aperture value. The 2.8 of the model you describe really bumps up the price!

Both should not be compared with the 100-400 as they are in different leagues.
Professional high grade(read fast) glass are designed and build to perform wide open which is why they are called "fast" and they don't really like to be stopped down.
http://www.photozone.de/nikon--nikko...igma-af-100-300mm-f4-nikon?start=1
Crowd pleaser's like the Canon 100-400 and Sigma 50-500 are designed and build to work best stopped down, somewhere in the F8 to F11 region which makes them very versatile.
http://www.photozone.de/canon-eos/20...m-l-is-test-report--review?start=1
It is seen in this light that I've never understood why the 100-400 carries an "L", it might have the build quality but lacks the characteristics of a high grade lens.

Quoting JakTrax (Reply 7):
The (new) 50-500 OS is a non-EX lens and I really don't know what to make of Sigma's latest marketing strategy.

Sigma has limited the "EX" line to F4.
Adding "OS", "IS", "VR" or what ever doesn't come without a price, it costs about a third of a stop.
Thus the 50-500 went from F4 to F4.5 and therefor lost it's EX label.
So it says nothing about build quality which is still the same, quite alright.
 
Silver1SWA
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RE: For Canon, Is 100-400L Still The Standard?

Sat Jul 24, 2010 9:20 am

Quoting GPHOTO (Reply 12):
But is it the lens or the conditions?

I'm fully aware of the effects conditions will have on the images. Conditions where I do most of my aviation shooting are horrible about 90% of the year. Lots of heat haze...the entire airport is concrete so I struggle a lot with distant shots, even though I have great access.

I don't only shoot aviation though. In fact lately I have done little, to none at all. It's in my experiences with it outside of aviation that I have been most frustrated with it. Perhaps it's simply the wrong piece of gear for what I am trying to do. Another reason why I am looking at the 70-200 2.8.

But from day one I have struggled with it's consistency, even in one sequence of shots. I can take a burst and it's a crap shoot...it's amazing how I can get one sharp and one horribly soft, practically out of focus just a fraction of a second later when everything looked just fine and steady through the viewfinder that whole time. I mean everything will appear to focus perfectly, but somewhere in the time of that shutter click, things go wrong and the image comes out soft/blurry.

I'm considering taking it up the road to Canon in Irvine and having them look at it (finally). But at this point since it's already out of warranty, if it's going to cost me a lot of money I will just deal with it until I am ready to get something else.
 
JakTrax
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RE: For Canon, Is 100-400L Still The Standard?

Sat Jul 24, 2010 3:03 pm

Some great points being raised here. Jim, you have said what I would probably need 5,000 words to say! Even at MAN with my 70-200 I can get poor quality shots if shooting over long distances at 200mm. It's just part of photography and another reason I now prefer winter for shooting.

Speaking of the 70-200 L range, Gary's right - there are many, many aviation photog's out there using these; which is not surprising as they are sharper than the 100-400 L.

The fact that we're all cautious about the Sigmas should tell us that the 70-200 L and 100-400 L are the natural choices. You rarely hear complaints. Having said that, if people are constantly steered away from Sigma, how will we ever know how they really perform in comparison?

Karl
 
dazbo5
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RE: For Canon, Is 100-400L Still The Standard?

Sat Jul 24, 2010 5:33 pm

Quoting JakTrax (Reply 16):
The fact that we're all cautious about the Sigmas should tell us that the 70-200 L and 100-400 L are the natural choices.

I wouldn't go quite that far Karl as there are a lot of Sigma shooters out there as well, including yourself. In my view, the 50-500 (albeit the non-OS version) is as good as the 100-400 when I did my research and made my choice 4 years ago. I've been using the Bigma for that length of time and given the focal lengths it gives, i'm pretty happy with the results I get. They aren't perfect my any means, but they're more than acceptable. I still maintain the 100-400, in my case as least, is a little long at the short end on a crop camera and one of the reason I opted for the Bigma. While the 100-400 is probably better when it comes to contrast, in terms of sharpness under equal conditions, I never saw much of a diference. The 100-400 and Bigma are both capable pieces of equipment as long as they're used to their advantages and it's ultimately down to the person using them and whay they're using them for.

Darren
 
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dlednicer
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RE: For Canon, Is 100-400L Still The Standard?

Sat Jul 24, 2010 6:06 pm

Quoting Silver1SWA (Reply 11):
Could you post the originals or at least some 100% crops of these shots for comparison purposes?

The original images are here:
http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y131/dlednicer/IMG_1889.jpg
http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y131/dlednicer/IMG_1918.jpg
 
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dvincent
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RE: For Canon, Is 100-400L Still The Standard?

Sun Jul 25, 2010 3:12 am

I used the non-OS Bigma for years. It was a good lens, but I wound up going with the Sony 70-400 G for a few reasons.

1. It's smaller, lighter, and uses 77mm filters. The standard Bigma needed 86mm coarse filters which were so expensive that I never bothered purchasing a polarizer for it. The OS Bigma is even worse.

2. It has SSM focus. The original Bigma for Minolta was screw drive, unlike its Canon/Nikon counterparts. This has been rectified with the OS Bigma.

3. The performance at 400 f/5.6 is exemplary. I use this for wildlife and it's easily a match for the usual 400 f/5.6 primes.

4. Bigma had image quality issues at 400-500. Lots of vignetting, had to be f/8 at a minimum for anything acceptable. The G just beats it.

One would choose the 100-400 L for the same reasons, I suspect.
 
Silver1SWA
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RE: For Canon, Is 100-400L Still The Standard?

Sun Jul 25, 2010 4:41 am

Quoting dlednicer (Reply 18):
The original images are here:

I'm sorry, I was interested in seeing the quality at full resolution so I could compare them to mine taken near the same spot. These examples are too small...
 
JakTrax
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RE: For Canon, Is 100-400L Still The Standard?

Sun Jul 25, 2010 4:51 am

Darren,

Good points. Not knowing too much about Sigma's range my questions were more hypothetical than anyhting else. I guess I was posing various questions in the hope of getting reliable answers. I reckon if Sigma's latest range can near Canon's L quality it'd sure be worth knowing about!

Hopefully soon we'll have some decent feedback re: Sigma's new lenses.

Karl
 
spencer
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RE: For Canon, Is 100-400L Still The Standard?

Sun Jul 25, 2010 11:30 am

IMHO John (OP), the 100-400 is a very good and very versatile lens. Of course there's better though. I've had my 100-400 for about 7 years now and will never sell it. It's always with me. Yes, it can give some soft results out at 400, but with anything within the photography world it all depends on how steady your hand is, the lighing conditions and what settings you use. In good light, the right settings and no hangover (hehe), it's a fine lens!
Spence.
 
dendrobatid
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RE: For Canon, Is 100-400L Still The Standard?

Sun Jul 25, 2010 1:00 pm

I used a Bigma 50-500 for a long time and many of my shots here are taken with one. I would still be using it now but for the fact that it got a knock and the Sigma repair and after sales service were poor. Bigma is however not an easy lens to use, the 100-400 far easier. I ended up buying a used 100-400 and I have to say that the contrast is better and it is noticeably sharper than the Bigma but I do miss Bigma's range.
As I take a lot of prop shots and love to have good prop blur, the IS has been a boon to me, swaying the decision firmly towards the 100-400 when the change became necessary.
Four years ago, in this long thread, at item 3 read what I said

Sigma 50-500 Or Canon 100-400L Is (by Franzloew Jul 10 2006 in Aviation Photography)

Having read a couple of reviews of the 50-500OS, that decision would have been far less easy to make since that became available, though my experience of the Sigma after sales treatment was not good. I am not alone in that either am I Darren ?

Mick Bajcar
 
dazbo5
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RE: For Canon, Is 100-400L Still The Standard?

Sun Jul 25, 2010 2:27 pm

Quoting dendrobatid (Reply 23):
I am not alone in that either am I Darren ?

You certainly aren't Mick! The first couple of times I had problems, first with the Bigma then the 10-20EX, I found them fine but I gave up on them the 3rd time round. A couple of the people who work down at Sigma UK (Ricky Wilder to mention one) are great, but I've had repairs that have failed again within weeks and they've never really solved the original problem.

Darren
 
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dlednicer
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RE: For Canon, Is 100-400L Still The Standard?

Sun Jul 25, 2010 4:35 pm

Quoting Silver1SWA (Reply 20):
I'm sorry, I was interested in seeing the quality at full resolution so I could compare them to mine taken near the same spot. These examples are too small...

Interesting! Photobucket downsized them! I'll figure out another way...
 
JakTrax
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RE: For Canon, Is 100-400L Still The Standard?

Sun Jul 25, 2010 4:58 pm

So it seems that the 100-400 is a safe bet - an 'old faithful' sort of lens, despite the fact that there is better out there. Which lenses would you folks actually consider better; leaving out the IS for the moment?

Like I say, my Sigma 100-300 f/4 EX on paper is optically better than the 100-400 but obviously the latter has advantages. Having never used the Canon I can't confirm anything for sure.

Interesting to see the arguments for the Canon's IS. It would be interesting to know how Sigma's new OS-equipped range does head-to-head, however the lack of people buying Sigmas as opposed to the 'better the devil you know' Canon will probably make this difficult.

Gary King told me recently that all the regular guys out at BCN are using the Sigma 120-400 OS. Must've started with one guy, whose results were enough to convince the others!

Karl
 
spencer
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RE: For Canon, Is 100-400L Still The Standard?

Sun Jul 25, 2010 5:17 pm

Quoting JakTrax (Reply 26):
Which lenses would you folks actually consider better; leaving out the IS for the moment?

What do you mean? If the Canon didn't have the IS? A bit of a worthless comparison really.
IMO given its focal range and IQ there is no other lens worth comparing.
Spence.
 
waketurbulence
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RE: For Canon, Is 100-400L Still The Standard?

Sun Jul 25, 2010 6:41 pm

Quoting JakTrax (Reply 26):
despite the fact that there is better out there

Please define something better that gives you a) as much range b) IS c) similar weight d) as good of results. The truth is you'll find none.

Quoting JakTrax (Reply 26):

Who are you trying to convince in this post, yourself? The Canon 100-400 is the most prolific all around lenses made by Canon, or anyone else for that matter. The results of thousands of photos speak for themselves, not to mention the number of sales. I'm happy you like your 100-300mm but the fact remains you will still be short in many aviation situations and you're lacking IS which can offer at least 1, maybe 2 stops of advantage. So now your lens is in a similar boat f/stop wise but lacking the last 100mm which can be crucial to aviation photography, not to mention wildlife etc. You can keep touting sharpness, contrast etc (which the 100-400 has plenty), but if you have to crop to get the shot, those don't really matter.
-Matt
 
aviopic
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RE: For Canon, Is 100-400L Still The Standard?

Sun Jul 25, 2010 9:04 pm

Quoting JakTrax (Reply 26):
Like I say, my Sigma 100-300 f/4 EX on paper is optically better than the 100-400 but obviously the latter has advantages.

Not only on paper.
It is the better lens just use it the way for which it has been designed.

Quoting WakeTurbulence (Reply 28):
I'm happy you like your 100-300mm but the fact remains you will still be short in many aviation situations and you're lacking IS which can offer at least 1, maybe 2 stops of advantage.

I think you(like many others) mis understand the difference between fast glass, slow glass and the purpose of IS.

Focusing is done through a fully open aperture regardless of the chosen setting.
At the long end that will be F4 for the Sigma 100-300/4 and F5.6 for the Canon 100-400.
So the Sigma will not only benefit from better optics but also from a faster and more reliable AF.
IS, OS, VR is not going to help in this department.

On the other hand IS, OS, VR will give a 2 stop benefit(some times more) whether this is an advantage remains to be seen.
If we compare the above mentioned Sigma and Canon I would say no which I'll try to explain(again sigh).
The 100-400 will give the best results from F8 to F11 or so, the 100-300 at F4 to F6.3
Which makes the Sigma about 3 stops faster, in other words still 1 stop faster than the 100-400 even with IS.
All in all we can conclude that adding IS onto a slow lens is that beneficial after all.
Imagine what happens if someone puts the Sigma on a sturdy tripod ?

Does that mean that there is no use for IS, OS, VR, no of course not.
Make the lens as good as it gets(thus fast) and then add IS, OS, VR, now we are talking benefit.
I've used an enormous amount of different lenses over the years just out of curiosity.
Some stay in the bag for years and other no more than 2 weeks.
So i've used a Sigma 300/2.8 prime which I found awesome and in every aspect better than the Canon 300/4(IS) which I also bought around the same time(you know......... out of curiosity).
Although the Sigma was optically 1 stop faster than the Canon I still sold the Sigma and kept the Canon.
For the reasons that the Canon weighs less, is cheaper and in this case the IS is a benefit because -1 stop + 2 stop(IS) is 1 stop faster in average use(how did I say that ?)  
Well I guess everybody understands when IS, OS, VR is a benefit and when it isn't so much.

The bottom line.
Don't compare fast and slow glass, they are there with a different purpose in mind.
Certainly not at F11 to F16, apart from the AF issue you are only using a pinhole for the actual frame and every optical benefit there might be will be vanished.
If you find yourself many times around the F16 bracket don't invest in fast glass, the outcome will be the same whether you use a Sigma, Canon or Okinoki it simply doesn't matter that much.

And at last.
Think about the purpose of your purchase, the fact that a zillion people choose a certain type is no reason your purpose and/or way of working might be totally different.
After that get the right lens for what you want to do, the fact that there are a zillion photos in the a.net database doesn't say anything as you might want to do something different.

Exhibit A

View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Willem Honders


For something like this anything with IS, OS, VR will do just fine.
Just remember that the outcome of a 100 buck Okinoki with IS will be the same.

Exhibit B

View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Willem Honders


If you wanna do something in the dark your camera is most likely on a tripod, any Okinoki will do.
It just doesn't matter, don't worry about it.

Exhibit C

View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Willem Honders


If you are in the air forget about IS, it does more damage than good.
A fast lens will offer a benefit though.

Exhibit D

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Photo © Willem Honders


If you want to reveal detail in less than perfect conditions a fast lens at F5.6 will do better than a slow one at F11.
Don't be afraid of a tripod.

Exhibit E

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Photo © Willem Honders
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Photo © Willem Honders


If you wanna do something up side down strap yourself in, IS is not going to safe your..........  
 
JakTrax
Posts: 5267
Joined: Thu Jun 30, 2005 3:30 am

RE: For Canon, Is 100-400L Still The Standard?

Mon Jul 26, 2010 3:43 am

Quoting spencer (Reply 27):
What do you mean? If the Canon didn't have the IS? A bit of a worthless comparison really
Quoting WakeTurbulence (Reply 28):
Please define something better that gives you a) as much range b) IS c) similar weight d) as good of results. The truth is you'll find none.

Guys, I'm chucking around a few questions based on what others here are saying. There was a mention of 'better' than the 100-400 so I asked what you folks consider better, if anything. I fully understand that the 100-400 offers a great all-round package with its range and IS, but if you never shoot at 400mm (like me) then would the Canon always be the better choice? I'm glad Willem has taken the time to go into detail to balance things out - it highlights the fact that many rave about the 100-400 without actually fairly comparing it to something else. Sure, nothing else has the versatility but that doesn't mean it's without competitors. Let's be honest, if the new OS-equipped Bigma is anywhere near in the image quality department it'll actually be more versatile than even the 100-400. And even if image quality isn't quite as good it may be a small sacrifice for a massive 10x optical zoom.

I bought my Sigma for less than half the price of a 100-400 and factoring this in I have to say that, at the moment, I don't have much use for the 100-400. Having said that, the Sigma 100-300 f/4 EX is a very niche lens, and probably will never find its way into the camera bags of 95% of aviation photographers.

Quoting WakeTurbulence (Reply 28):
The Canon 100-400 is the most prolific all around lenses made by Canon, or anyone else for that matter

Prolific doesn't mean best. I'm not knocking the 100-400 here. For a start I've never used one, and I have said above that I'd add it to my collection any day. Perhaps the 100-400 is so widely used that many just don't want to accept that there are viable alternatives? If indeed there are viable alternatives?

I know I for one would love to see how well the new Sigmas perform in aviation. Could they surprise us?

Karl
 
JakTrax
Posts: 5267
Joined: Thu Jun 30, 2005 3:30 am

RE: For Canon, Is 100-400L Still The Standard?

Mon Jul 26, 2010 3:51 am

Another point we're missing here...

If we're talking quality and sharpness, I doubt the 70-200 Ls can be beaten. Sure, they don't have the range of the 100-400 but if you never shoot at above 200mm why spend three times as much? Surely for some individuals the 70-200 can be classed as an alternative; a competitor to the 100-400?

It doesn't matter how good a lens is if the photographer isn't going to use its full potential.

Karl
 
JohnJ
Topic Author
Posts: 1385
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RE: For Canon, Is 100-400L Still The Standard?

Mon Jul 26, 2010 3:48 pm

Thanks for the great information, lots to consider here. What it falls down to is that I'm reasonably happy with my old 75-300mm lens despite its limitations: the main selling point here is some extra focal length. I found 300mm unsuitable for air show photography, and the lens fell short on a recent trip to LAX. The 400mm will also come in handy for JFK Runway 31L departure shots, something I've never been able to capture well with the 300mm.

So, with all that in mind and since the 100-400L seems to still be in vogue based on the responses here, I just placed an order for it. Here's hoping I get a "good copy".

Thanks again...

John
 
JakTrax
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RE: For Canon, Is 100-400L Still The Standard?

Mon Jul 26, 2010 4:19 pm

Despite everything said I really don't think you'll be disappointed John.

Enjoy!

Karl
 
GPHOTO
Posts: 799
Joined: Sun Aug 01, 2004 11:44 pm

RE: For Canon, Is 100-400L Still The Standard?

Mon Jul 26, 2010 5:41 pm

John,

If one of your main motivations is for airshows, it's a pretty standard lens for such things. I like airshows and general aviation mainly. Those aircraft tend to be on the small side, so the 100-400 L suits me well there. 300mm was a bit short, so the extra 100mm was useful, as was the jump in quality, better focussing performance and speed (physical, not optical).

This lens has succeeded over the years becuase of it's balance of features combined with it's price. It delivers a lot for a price that, while expensive, is reachable by many enthusiasts. Is it the best in any area of performance? No, you can always find a lens that will beat it somewhere. Willem makes some great points above that everyone should read and understand, really enjoyed reading that post Willem - thanks! With this lens it's about the overall package - it does everything very well or well enough, that's what makes it a good buy.

I don't think you'll be disappointed, very few are, but it is not a miracle lens, you still have to know it and use it right to get the best from it.

Best regards,

Jim
 
JakTrax
Posts: 5267
Joined: Thu Jun 30, 2005 3:30 am

RE: For Canon, Is 100-400L Still The Standard?

Mon Jul 26, 2010 6:50 pm

Quoting gphoto (Reply 34):
This lens has succeeded over the years becuase of it's balance of features combined with it's price. It delivers a lot for a price that, while expensive, is reachable by many enthusiasts. Is it the best in any area of performance? No, you can always find a lens that will beat it somewhere. Willem makes some great points above that everyone should read and understand, really enjoyed reading that post Willem - thanks! With this lens it's about the overall package - it does everything very well or well enough, that's what makes it a good buy.

Jim, you can always say what I mean to say but in much fewer words! Couldn't have put it better!

The 100-400 is suitable for perhaps 80% of aviation photographers (it's certainly the best air show lens you can buy) but there are alternatives that do certain things better. Trouble is, many people buy it thinking it will get them stunning images of large airliners from two miles away in summer. It of course won't. Using a long-range telephoto to its full potential takes time and effort, and for some applications shooting at 400mm is just no good to anyone. I always think super tele-photos like the Bigma and 100-400 are best suited to clear winter days. A lot of my shots taken in summer at 300mm (or close to) with my Sigma are just awful - but that's environmental conditions rather than technique or indeed the lens itself.

Karl
 
GPHOTO
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Joined: Sun Aug 01, 2004 11:44 pm

RE: For Canon, Is 100-400L Still The Standard?

Mon Jul 26, 2010 7:22 pm

Quoting JakTrax (Reply 35):
Jim, you can always say what I mean to say but in much fewer words! Couldn't have put it better!

I can assure you that several of my fellow Crew members think otherwise  

I can make Psych look concise at times!

Best regards,

Jim
 
aviopic
Posts: 2423
Joined: Sat Mar 13, 2004 7:52 pm

RE: For Canon, Is 100-400L Still The Standard?

Mon Jul 26, 2010 9:04 pm

Quoting JakTrax (Reply 30):
I'm glad Willem has taken the time to go into detail to balance things out

Guess I just used a lot of words to say: "there are as many personal preferences, different circumstances and purposes as there are humans on planet earth".
A "the standard" doesn't exists.

Unless you are seriously loaded and able to fork out 40 grand of course.
In possession of a fork lift for transportation.
In possession of a license to carry artillery.
And don't mind to get nicked the very first time you visit your local airport.
http://www.sigmaphoto.com/shop/200-500mm-f28-apo-ex-dg-sigma
I'll be damned if it doesn't beat the 100-400  
Should this now be "the standard" ? nah....... I don't think so.

Quoting JakTrax (Reply 30):
Having said that, the Sigma 100-300 f/4 EX is a very niche lens, and probably will never find its way into the camera bags of 95% of aviation photographers.

The above mentioned lens won't be in the bag of 99.99999999999% of aviation photographers and yet it is probably the best zoom ever created.
It would take a serious bag btw.

Quoting JakTrax (Reply 30):
if the new OS-equipped Bigma is anywhere near in the image quality department it'll actually be more versatile than even the 100-400.

I'll let you know when I get my hands on one.
Don't want to keep it as I all ready know I'll find it way to heavy but I sure want to try one.
Although I am looking forward to the new 70-200/2.8 OS even more.
http://www.sigmaphoto.com/shop/70-200mm-f28-ex-dg-os-hsm-sigma

Quoting JakTrax (Reply 31):
If we're talking quality and sharpness, I doubt the 70-200 Ls can be beaten.

You guys are forcing me into long posts. 
Karl you are rushing without investigation.
Both Canon's the F2.8 and F4 are outstanding but then again for some reason all fast 70-200's are.
Guess they are relative easy to produce.
The sharpness of the F4 although very good is a bit of a myth as I've been unable to find much hard evidence for it.
(There is one little issue with the F2.8 though which I'll explain below.)
The reason for this is in my opinion the weight factor, a F2.8 is twice as heavy compared to the F4.
If we leave the IS option aside one has to compensate the exposure time accordingly, if not done one might be left with the idea that the F4 is sharper.

A choice between the two also depends on the body in question because there is a strange thingy going on.
On a low density sensor(less then 15 mp) the F4 performs more like a fast lens than the F2.8 does(good wide open, drops off when stopped down).
Distortion is pretty much equal.
The F4 wins in resolution wide open and the F2.8 takes over from F8 onwards.
So in this combination the F4 might appear to be sharper wide open.
F2.8 data
http://www.photozone.de/canon-eos/19...m-l-is-test-report--review?start=1
F4 data
http://www.photozone.de/canon-eos/19...-usm-l-test-report--review?start=1
If we compare the above with a second generation(not as good as a first but better than a third(macro) generation) Sigma 70-200/2.8 we don't find much difference other than that the Sigma beats the Canon F2.8 in terms of vignetting and aberrations control.
http://www.photozone.de/canon-eos/32...dg-lab-test-report--review?start=1
So like in my previous post they all have their + and -, "what is most important for you" is the only valid question and not what is best.

When the Canon F2.8 is mounted on a high density sensor it does come to life and will out perform the F4.
It also starts to behave like a fast lens is supposed to.
F2.8 data
http://www.photozone.de/canon-eos/512-canon_70200_28is2_50d?start=1
F4 data
http://www.photozone.de/canon-eos/449-canon_70200_4is_50d?start=1
So I do not know which body you have but I guess you have some data to study.
Remember that the F4 doesn't take a 2x TC.

Quoting JohnJ (Reply 32):
Here's hoping I get a "good copy".

This is another myth that for some reason keeps singing around here, for some reason people refuse to RTFM  
There are NO good and bad copies, if a certain lens is not really faulty it is in 99% of the reported cases just a matter of tolerance.
A camera comes with a certain tolerance as does a lens, L or no L.
In most cases this is not a problem until both the body and the lens are off in the same direction(front or back).
Although each is within tolerance specification together they might be out of spec.
This can easily be corrected via the software(menu), profile, micro adjust.

Quoting gphoto (Reply 34):
I don't think you'll be disappointed, very few are, but it is not a miracle lens, you still have to know it and use it right to get the best from it.

Ones this is understood you will have made the right choice !

Quoting JakTrax (Reply 30):
Perhaps the 100-400 is so widely used that many just don't want to accept that there are viable alternatives? If indeed there are viable alternatives?

This is what keeps me away from this forum most of the time.
Although I am a long time Canon user I don't have blind faith and I've never understood why others do.
Study, try and investigate everything you can get a hand on regardless of brand.
In some aspects I prefer a Nikon over a Canon because I've tried several.
Recently I had to select a camera for the department and I bought a cheap Sony DSLR, out of curiosity yes.
Guess what, it works just fine  
In fact AWB is like on a Nikon much better and I like the inbody stabilization a lot.

Quoting JakTrax (Reply 30):
I know I for one would love to see how well the new Sigmas perform in aviation. Could they surprise us?

Everybody should love Sigma and all the other producers just for being around and giving Canon and Nikon a run for their money.
In the end it is all of us who benefit from a wide selection, better quality and a fair price due to the increasing competition.
Whether one wants to use third party equipment or not doesn't matter, they just need to be around.

And yes Sigma is going strong for quite some time already.
 
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dvincent
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RE: For Canon, Is 100-400L Still The Standard?

Tue Jul 27, 2010 4:24 am

Quoting Aviopic (Reply 37):
This is another myth that for some reason keeps singing around here, for some reason people refuse to RTFM  
There are NO good and bad copies, if a certain lens is not really faulty it is in 99% of the reported cases just a matter of tolerance.
A camera comes with a certain tolerance as does a lens, L or no L.
In most cases this is not a problem until both the body and the lens are off in the same direction(front or back).
Although each is within tolerance specification together they might be out of spec.
This can easily be corrected via the software(menu), profile, micro adjust.

While this is true for front/backfocus, that is not true for spherical and centering defects, which can affect individual sides of the frame and affect performance at infinity. Unfortunately for us digital reveals much more of these kinds of flaws than film did for various reasons. Sending it in to the official service center should take care of these types of issues under warranty.
 
JohnJ
Topic Author
Posts: 1385
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RE: For Canon, Is 100-400L Still The Standard?

Tue Jul 27, 2010 4:51 pm

Arghh. I was all set to write a post extolling the virtues of UPS and B&H in getting me my lens overnight despite it being shipped free by UPS Ground, but when the lens arrived a few minutes ago the box looked like it'd been thrown down a flight of stairs. The Canon box inside was also crumpled. I didn't even look at the lens, just gave it back to the UPS driver and refused it as damaged.

B&H customer service, as I've always experienced, has been excellent. They're shipping another lens out to me which they say will be here by tomorrow.
 
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dvincent
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RE: For Canon, Is 100-400L Still The Standard?

Sat Jul 31, 2010 5:35 pm

So have you gotten a proper lens yet, John?

I imagine things will be a bit more conspicuous around BDL with you waving that thing around...  
 
JohnJ
Topic Author
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RE: For Canon, Is 100-400L Still The Standard?

Sat Jul 31, 2010 9:38 pm

Hi Dan, thanks for asking - B&H got my replacement 100-400L lens right back out to me the day after the first one arrived with bashed packaging. UPS managed to put a big gash in the side of the second box, but the interior packaging was fine so I kept it. I took the kids up to BDL yesterday afternoon to put it through its first paces, selecting a spot that's always been out of reach of the 300mm - Runway 33 approach shots from the roof of the garage. Of course the day I choose to do this the tower sends 99% of the traffic over to Runway 6, but I did manage some shots and I'm encouraged by what I see. With another angle I had in mind for the lens, aircraft going into position on 33 from the roof of the garage, it looks like all my shots are affected by heat haze, of course not the fault of the lens. There was a Delta 738 over on A9 that may have been spewing APU exhaust out that direction, plus that's a lot of concrete to be shooting over. The other angle I'd like to try at BDL is Runway 24 departures from over by the old DHL cargo parking lot. And of course, the entire prospect of the BOS Terminal B garage angle makes me excited, as does finally getting to try my hand at some JFK Runway 31L departure shots.

We would have made for quite a sight for law enforcement last night. I had the 400mm out in full view, my 8-year-old son was hanging out the sunroof of the van with my old 300mm, and my 5-year-old was manning the video camera. No problems, though. At $7.25 for us to park up there, they should encourage people like us to go up there. The airport needs the money.

I'll try to post a pic or two later.
 
JakTrax
Posts: 5267
Joined: Thu Jun 30, 2005 3:30 am

RE: For Canon, Is 100-400L Still The Standard?

Sun Aug 01, 2010 4:34 am

Quoting JohnJ (Reply 41):
it looks like all my shots are affected by heat haze, of course not the fault of the lens

I always maintain that you cannot properly test a 300/400mm lens on something a good distance away in summer - heat haze will always kill it; even early morning (although for some reason late evening always seems better). For this reason I have always bought long lenses in winter, so that I can fully test them straight away and return them if necessary.

Karl
 
JohnJ
Topic Author
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RE: For Canon, Is 100-400L Still The Standard?

Sun Aug 01, 2010 2:54 pm

Not a bad idea Karl, but it's worth noting that you can quite easily get heat haze on a freezing cold winter morning/evening. I have plenty of winter shots marred by heat haze. I will agree that in general the problem is worse in the summer. This lens is such an improvement over my 300mm that I'm not sure I'd spot a problem unless it was really, really bad.
 
JakTrax
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RE: For Canon, Is 100-400L Still The Standard?

Sun Aug 01, 2010 4:32 pm

John J,

Yes, heat haze can plague photographers in all seasons but to what extent depends on where you live. Here in the UK you have to be very unlucky to get heat haze in winter (winter just gone some parts of the UK were down to -19C) - although it is of course possible (albeit again only when shooting across great distances). Many cases of winter heat haze usually turn out to be APU exhaust from other aircraft.

Karl

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